Tis the Season…

…to PuG your ass off. It’s Christmas, and Santa has a million Emblems of Triumph under every tree in brightly colored packages that look suspiciously like the ones you got last year too. This year though, the socks and sweaters have better stats, the mittens match your hat, and the mall has 3 new stores where the snobby kids will pick on you and kick you out if you’re not wearing this year’s fashion. Oh yeah, and everyone is in a big rush this holiday season. Walmart aisles aren’t the only places people are gonna get trampled in the quest for better deals and pretty purple outterwear.
I have over 4000 dungeon and raid emblems, more than 500 triumph on me as I write this. I hit 2500 early on in 3.2, was sitting at around 2200-2400 before the patch dropped. I ran heroics through 3.2 to get full tank, dps, holy, and ret pvp gear; and I’m doing the same in 3.3. THEN there are the alts I’ve done it on. I have a 2nd 80 prot pally who ran 3.2 to get tank gear, mercifully I feel no need to 5-set him (though he leveled ret so he has a remedial dps set and I’m building a holy set slowly but surely, and, as a tank, of course he has a block set). Then there is my warrior who has been 80 about a month who needs dps, tank, and pvp gear. Across all my characters I’m sure I’m nearing 5000 dungeon and raid emblems, if I have’t already passed it. I’m sick of heroics as something to do; they are just a short way to grab some emblems. Some people get sick to death of instances. I’ve had people tell me they’ve been in certain dungeons several times in the same day. It’s one of the benefits and curses of the new dungeon finder tool.
I’ve heard the phrase “silent stormtroopers of death” in one form or another when people talk about some of their pugs, and, to be fair, I’m definitely one of those people. If I queue with some guildies, we’re all having fun on vent, but I never talk in /p. There are some very rare exceptions, but tanking an instance is all business to me; the business of get in and get out with my 5-7 emblems as fast as possible. I’m not looking to make cross server friends, I’m looking to farm. Mostly, I just don’t have time to type anything in /p because I never stop moving, never stop pulling. I LOVE Gundak. I can’t even tell you how much I love Gundak. Even with a poor group I can clear it in about 15m being the top dps or the bottom DPS, 20 minutes tops. If I got there from the random, that’s 7 emblems for 15m of work. Call me a Greedy Goblin if you want to, but I don’t care if they remove all trash and all drakes from Oculus and let me drake scale to 45million health, I’m never going to run that instance. Every time it pops, I leave. I’ve also begun leaving Halls of Lighting and Halls of Stone. I do not leave them immediately, but if it’s the 3rd time in the same day I get them, the temptation certainly arises, though I may not necessarily indulge it. To date, I have not abandoned a single heroic that was not one of those 3 dungeons. I run OK, I run AN, I run UP. No dungeon is “hard.” Even with an inexperienced or BAD group, no dungeon is “hard.” My gear and countless heroic runs worth of experience are more than enough to compensate for anything. Give me a healer who knows how to target me, and I can 2man heroic content (except the 3 new ones, so far…). I leave dungeons because I’m burned out. Well, that’s a lie for Oculus. I leave Oculus to passively-agressive send a message to the Blizzard stat-tracker. “200 instances of the Oculs we spawned today, that’s 1000 players, 846 left party immediately.” No one likes your gimmick dungeon Blizzard. It was vaguely cool the first time we did it when we knew how to do it properly, but every time after that it was just an excercise in plodding frustration. I DPS’d it on my warrior in a pug the other day, we got Make it Count. An achievement I had to bust my ass to speedrun on my main with some people from my guild’s tribute to insanity group back when the instance tried to take itself seriously, and we barely got it. Even trivializing the instance doesn’t change the underlying cause of my dislike for it. It’s not even the drake mechanic, it’s the DRAKES THAT FLY IN THE AIR AND PULL ON YOU WHEN YOU ARE WALKING AROUND AND YOU CAN’T MOUNT TO FIGHT BACK OR HIT THEM CAUSE YOU’RE ALL MELEE AND YOU WIPE. If some brave souls want to tough out the Oculus, that is their choice, and I hope they have a good time, but I want no part of it.
As I’m sure everyone has now experienced at least once, I am by no means the only tank to ever drop a dungeon, or to run the ones I do stay in at a breakneck speed with a seemingly complete disregard for my healer and dps. There are forum threads asking, “why do tanks pull so fast” right above threads claiming, “tanks don’t pull fast enough.” There have been countless blog posts written praising the innovation and ease of the system, and of disdain for tanks. “This trend, of tanks in particular leaving the party and taking the deserter debuff if the Instance is not to their liking, is happening with an ever accelerating pace. Welcome to the world of primadonna rockstar tanks that think that the world really does revolve around them.” This statement strikes me as at least a little unfair. Granted, the joy of never having to say in trade chat, “Tank LFG Heroics” is pretty much the greatest thing since Ardent Defender, but it doesn’t change the fact that if I wasn’t going to agree to tank your Oculus run in trade chat, why would I suddenly agree to it now that I’ve been randomly teleported there?
The bleeding hearts (tanks, as well as healers and dps) cry, “Grow a pair and stay in the friggin’ dungeon: Unless you get zoned into a place that you’re 100% positive you don’t have the gear to tank, you signed up to be sent there just like everybody else did.” Wrong. WRONG. Since there is no “anywhere but Oculus” button, I signed up for the game to find me a group to any dungeon as fast as possible. Unless I queue for a specific dungeon I did no such thing as “agree to stay where sent.” This isn’t the military, I need obey no orders. I, and everyone else in the group, have a choice. Our choices affect others, sometimes negatively, true, but that’s life. Just like when I have a healer leave me mid-pull in gundrak cause he doesn’t want to run it twice in 2 hours. When he left, I pulled anyway, and kept pulling till another healer joined the group. At that point, I stopped healing myself. Then they cry, “You know perfectly well that you’re consigning people to another wait for a tank if you bolt just because you don’t like Oculus (or wherever).” Yes I do, their problem, they can leave too, or tough it out. They have a choice just like I do.
“We[tanks] are not unique and special snowflakes. You[we] will be replaced if you leave in a snit when the group doesn’t go to your liking, and it should worry you that the group will suddenly work perfectly once the second guy zones in.” Yes, thank you, you are quite correct, and god bless that tank that will take one for the team in Oculus, cause it sure as hell won’t be me, I’ve got efficiency and lack of aggrivation to think about. It doesn’t worry me that someone can replace me because that’s not how the system works. I am not a contracter bidding for a spot in a 5man like I am in a raiding environment when 2 tanks get the call for 25 spots. I will queue, and I will always get a tank spot with a shorter wait time than a healer or a dps will, even if eventually it makes me wait 2-5 minutes instead of an instant entrance. If a group decides to replace me, that is ther decison, but until it gets to the point where the wait for a replacement tank is shorter than putting up with a poor tank or one with a bad attitude or who pulls too fast, or not fast enough, or a class you prefer for a specific instance, I will never be replaced a significant number of times. This does not give me, or any other tank, the right to act self-important or rude, but it in no way prohobits be from exercising my right to prefrence.
“Rockstar?” I don’t think of myself like that, and I’m not sure if others do when I pug with them or not. What I consider myself is someone on a mission, and that mission is emblems-per-hour efficiency. If, in my estimaton, it is more efficient to sit in Dalaran for 15 minutes and queue again, then that is what I will do. Besides, which is more cruel, leaving the Oculus immediately, or running it as fast as I can for 15 minutes, killing 3 bosses, then leaving once my debuff is off and hoping for a faster instance because I’ll have a 0-scond wait time in my new queue? Now they need a tank and are an instance in progress potentially making it a less appealing position to fill. It’s not a strictly and rigidly enforced emblem-per-hour metric, because halls of lightning can be run in 15 minutes with a good group, Oculus can be done in a little over 20 now that it has been further neutered, and Halls of Stone requires a similar timeframe; as a tank I also have to weigh “pain-in-the-neck” potential. No one leaves the Oculus because they are afraid of it or think it is too hard. They leave because they don’t want to be stuck with 4 people in greens who have never been there before. That statistical reality of that situation is VERY LOW, but that doesn’t stop people from blowing their fears out of proportion and not taking that chance. I skip Oculus because of drake agro. I skip Halls of Stone because of the Tribunal. I skip halls of lightning because of the trash. I do not enjoy tanking these instances. They are not difficult, they are annoying. They are demoralizing because I cannot impose my wrath-cultivated “gather and AoE-obliterate” tanking method for their trash which hampers my emblems-per-hour.
I mentioned my mad-dash to amass triumph emblems (and emblems of Frost from the daily randoms) on all my characters for the sake of gearing up to current content on alts (and stockpiling on my main), and I’m certain I’m not the only one doing this. Someone wrote that they saw some ill-tempered player proclaim in trade chat one day, “Enjoy the runs in LFG while you can, noobs, as soon as all the Tanks get the last of the Triumph and Frost they want, and the new bosses are unlocked in Icecrown, you’re never gonna see another tank again. They’ll be raiding with their guilds and getting Frost and you’ll be shit out of luck.” The poster remarks with skepticism at the assumption that all tanks that join the random dungeons are battle-hardened raiders, but I can certainly see the potential for a large drop-off in the already small and (apparently) shallow tanking pool. I know that I, personally, will not be running more than the daily random once my Paladin, alt Paladin, and Warrior have accumulated all they can use from the Triumph menu. That’s 3 daily randoms that I account for in the name of Emblems of Frost, but compare that to the dozens I run now to amass, it is barely a drop in the bucket, especially with the decried shortage of tanks available.
So all this makes me wonder, why isn’t this happening with healers? I don’t see any threads saying, “my healer couldn’t keep me up” or, “my healer started dpsing in my heroic cause I’m overgeared and didn’t need healing so I got mad at him cause he wasn’t paying attention to me, the rockstar tank.” It’s not politically correct to criticize healers, because if the healer has a problem, it’s the tank’s job to adjust. “My healer immediately dropped group in the dungeon cause they didn’t want to do it, waaaaaahhh!” And, of course, no one even notices when a DPS leaves because there are thousands more chomping at the bit for a shorter queue time. At what point do I become a martyr to the happiness and convenience of the DPS and healers? While it is certainly a little selfish to “always look out for number 1″ just how much of a sacrifice are people really expecting tanks to make? To some DPS or healer, that Oculus run might be the first dungeon they’ve been sent into all day. To the tank, that might be the 3rd time he’s been placed there. Should he be forced to stay because it is unfair to THIS group that he leave even though he has already begrudgingly suffered through the instance twice against his prefrences? Just as tanks cannot treat healers and dps as unimportant expendible resources, tanks cannot be treated as soulless dungeon commodities. Our job may be to act like a brick wall, but we are not one. Tanks have feelings too *sniff*.
When I have queued solo as DPS, I behave a little differently because I am insecure in my warrior-dps because I’m still getting used to it, and because a DPS is 1000% more replacable in a pug. It does frustrate me that my tanks that I’ve been assigned have not been as good or as fast as I would like. It must be karma that I get the most terrible group mates when I’m on my warrior because I can’t overcome their deficiencies with my tanking, since I didn’t queue as a tank. I probably get terrible group mates on my tank, I just don’t notice because it doesn’t matter since with a pocket healer I can basically do it myself. Not so as an arms warrior. Sad panda… When I queue as a dps though, I wait between 10-20 minutes to get a spot in a dungeon, so I’m much more appreciative of my dungeon spot than I am as a tank. I am still in a hurry to get in and get out as I am when tanking, but I realize that finishing the instance, period, without the group falling apart, is my top priority. I can say without question that I appreciate the opportunity to be in a dungeon much much more when I am queued as a DPS than I am as a tank because I know that there are far more dps queueing than there are spots available for the number of tanks queueing. It does make me stop to appreciate the burdens placed upon DPS when a tank is uncooperative or unskilled. So, when I queue as a tank it has had the effect of making me sympathetic to their feelings and their probl… WTF OCULUS ARE YOU FREAKIN SERIOUS!? DAMN YOU BLIZ! /dropgroup.” Yeah, I admit it, I forget the pain of dpsing and waiting in queues the second I put on my shield.
The snobbery of people in general as Wrath has gone on has noticibly escalated. Everything has become about linking achievements and calculating gearscore. While I admit to being bummed when I’m in a 5man doing the top damage done and dps as the tank, heroics really don’t demand much more than 1.2k dps per person, if that. All raid tanks who get ported to heroics with their 40k+ life unbuffed are used to seeing 4k as the floor and will be out of sorts seeing a hunter doing sub-1000, but the instance is not uncompletable. Maybe they are being carried, but what should other people care. Is it cynicism that makes people assume that beginning players or even just casuals must be some AFK-botting person looking for a carry to some emblems for no effort? A blog author attempting to, I can only imagine, cut tanks some slack, said; “It’s perfectly acceptable to walk into a heroic with as low as 32k unbuffed health if you have to in order to keep threat in the first place.” First heroic I ever tanked I think I was 22k buffed. I was kept alive just fine by my overgeared pally healer.
There are certainly selfish, “Rockstar” tanks out there, and there are humble, accomodating martyr tanks willing to put up with anything to see their job done. While I always try my best to be on that latter side of the extremes spectrum, I, and most every tank, falls somewhere in between, just going into the dungeon to get their emblems, get out, buy their shinies, and go try and find a group for Icecrown Citadel 10man so they can kill the Lich King before Cataclysm comes out. Everyone wants to be the hero, and tanks are going to be the ones who get to stand toe-to-toe with the Lich King and stare him down while everyone else shoots him in the back. Maybe tanks are rockstars afterall. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s been a long day of tanking and there is a shower full of nubile young women of various attractive Azerothian races waiting for me.
Ultimately the problem just boils down to impatience. No one queues up for a random 5man for the challenge of it anymore (or maybe some very silent minority of the population), so everyone just wants to go in, have a tank that pulls the whole place, dps that all does 4k disintegrating everything, and a healer who throws in a few spells of their own to try and speed the run up so they can all drop group and requeue for some more emblems. I do not have fun in 5mans anymore unless I go in with a gimmick. I’ve done 5mans with no healers, I’ve done 5man with 3 people. I’ve done 5mand where the goal was to kill every boss in 20 seconds or less or we failed. I’ve done 5mans where I’ve tested my limits by seeing just how many 80+ elites I can tank at once. I’ve kiting wings of trash to bosses then had them hit me while everyone single-targeted the boss anyway. I’ve had bored ret paladins turn on righteous fury so I could threat-duel them (oh boy did I ever lose that one, lol). But I can’t do these things in solo-pugs, only when I bring one or more guildies with me, and in those times we usually get paired with some guy in greens who probably doesn’t even know what happens because by the time he has targeted the mob, we’ve finished killing the 3rd group down the hallway. We have become too large of fish in our small 5man ponds but we are forced to go back to them time and time again as much as we’d rather be somewhere else. In order for me to change the way I play, I would have to change the way I approach the game in these circumstances, so that is what I’m going to do. Next raid lockout I am going to try a series of experiments each day with random dungeons and see how things go. Maybe I’ll have some illuminating experiences to share with you all.

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